Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Autodesk FormIt

A new iPad app was announced by Autodesk at AU this week. This time, it’s a conceptual design application called FormIt. The app reminds me of SketchUp in that you can edit forms through direct manipulation and by sketching lines to divide surfaces, thus creating new extrusions. This interaction feels pretty fluid and intuitive. I was up and running with some conceptual forms within minutes.

There are numerous aspects of this app that set it apart from other mobile design tools. First, FormIt gives you pretty reasonable dimensional accuracy and feedback as you place, move, and edit forms. You can even use a direct measurement tool. Another really cool feature is the ability to define a target gross area for your proposed design. As you build up a form, the app gives you feedback in the upper left of the screen, as to how the form is achieving the area. You set some options such as typical floor height and the app automatically adds levels as the form gets taller, thus calculating the gross area.

You can also locate the proposed form on a site using a connection to Apple Maps (I think). From there, you can simulate shadows directly in the app. The model can then be transferred to Vasari or Revit for further development or analysis.

I’m pretty excited about this new app, but the real test will be putting it in the hands of some real designers. Let’s see what happens…

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Change is in the Air

The time has come, the walrus said, 
to talk of many things.
Of shoes of ships of sealing wax,
And other fancy things.

Like our new teammates. We're expanding the team and we're looking to do bigger and better. Please welcome Tobias, Tessa, and Ryan:

They're architects, designers, software engineers, photographers, painters, harpists, and cyclists. Nation-wide. They've worked with A-list architects and lived to tell the tales. Now they're joining the team as the new authors of Revit Essentials. Making it better, expanding the content, and fixing all the typos. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Future of Design? Leeeeeeroy Jeeeeenkins!

IMG 1794

Harrison's best friend Christopher (mentioned here) loves designing buildings. He talks of studying architecture and becoming an architect. He and Harrison are also avid fans of Minecraft. Once homework is done they'll often log on Minecraft with their friends from school (one of the guys even hosts Minecraft on his private server). They also log into Skype for VoIP.  Together, this group of 8-10 high school students collaborate in real-time to discuss, design, plan and build the most fantastic of ideas.

However, a few weeks ago I found myself having to convince Christopher not to give up on his dreams to become an architect. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nowhamsayin? Nowhamsayin? Nowhamsayin?

Some very important announcements!

1. Mastering Revit 2013 ships internationally as of today in 6 languages! Thanks to Willem (fearless editor) and the entire team at Wiley / Sybex for making this happen! Link here.

2. We're jumping on the iBookstore bandwagon.  The "Mastering Revit Architectural Series" are intended to be specialized and focus around single topics. Think of these as the Mastering Revit "singles" based on the Mastering Revit "LP". And priced accordingly. It's available as of today in 32 countries!

The first effort is "Architecture Daylighting Analysis" (link) for $1.99 for 38 pages of goodness. We really hope you'll check back as we add more topics to the Mastering Revit Series!

And now….the moment you've all been waiting for (drumroll please)...

3. David Light has agreed to join the Mastering Revit team!


Mr. David Light (pictured above) or affectionately referred to by the authoring team as "D-ROC". He'll be creating the mix-tapes and wearing the gold chains in the his new role of "Technical Editor". Check out his LinkedIn profileWe're really glad to have Dave join the team for a number of reasons.

First of all David is a Revit guru. And in addition to his blogging and twittering - he has a way better accent and even raises his eyebrows a lot when he talks. Revit/Accent/Eyebrow combination gives him an air of authority and royalty that quite frankly, James, Eddy and I lack.

Second, he doesn't mix his drinks. So after a few unlucky souls apparently turned to moonshine during RTC 2012 and ended up doing dive bombs into the pool - David could be seen calmly collecting wallets, watches and iPhones all the while mumbling something about how "Uncle Fagin would be ever so proud."

And finally, although David doesn't like to admit it - his second cousin twice removed from his great uncle's ex-mistresses niece's brother's first wife's great granddaughter's godmother is none other than Kate Middleton. Yes - that Kate Middleton.

The points of this last facinating detail is two-part:  

1) The Middleton family was happily allowed to settle a long-standing gambling debt by allowing the Light family to crash…errr…attend Kate's wedding. And while you couldn't hear it if you watched the ceremony on TV, David's son Elliot dropped a whole box of LEGO right in the middle of the vows (although truth told, it was David's box of LEGO). Note Dave in the distance photo-bomping the nuptials:

WeddingCrasherBut most importantly?

2) As soon as Kate picks up the cell phone (keep trying Dave!) the Mastering Revit authoring team is quite certain she'll pleasantly agree to write the Forward to next years Mastering book! All the more timely considering the U.K. march toward all things BIM. At least that's what David assures our editor, Willem.

And speaking of our editor Willem - one word of advice for Dave: the contracts are for USD$ - not British Pounds. The difference? Big Mac vs. MacBook Pro!

So please join us in welcoming David Light, Technical Editor to the Mastering Revit 2014 team!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Zoom To Awesome!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Not only is today Friday - or better yet - Saturday (Hi Australia!).

Not only is there a cold beverage of your choice waiting for you at the end of another long week spent hunched over a hot processor.

You are all about to have access to the finest, most useful, most glorious kick-ass-ness of a Revit Add-In in the history of Building Information Modeling:


Zoom To Awesome

Testing is complete. This add-in kicks an infinity of ass. If Chuck Norris used Revit - this would be his favorite tool. Caution: you may smack your forehead with your open palm after using this amazing tool just one timeYou will wonder why you didn't think of this. You will wonder why no one at the Revit factory has thought of this. 

You will demand this functionality be included with Revit.

Don't say we didn't warn you.

- End User License Agreement (EULA) - 

By installing the "Zoom To Awesome" Revit Add-in, you agree to be bound by the following Terms of Service (TOS):

1. You agree to #FF Don Bokmiller (@dbokmiller), Elier Ramirez (@TBD - Sheesh!) and yours truly (@philread) on Twitter.

2. You agree to provide at least one of us with an adult beverage during AU2012.

3. You agree to Twitter/email/Facebook/crosspost/etc the download link to your fellow Reviteers in order to give them a sense of childlike joy and wonder (#ZoomToAwesome).

4. You agree not to pester us if you install this add-in and something goes horribly, inexplicably wrong (even though Don and Elier assure me this is completely unlikely to happen).

Okay, ready? Hyperventilating? Tunnel vision? Here we go!

Steps to success:

1. Download, unzip and install "Zoom To Awesome":

2. Open your favorite Revit project and look around - like the floor plan in this sample project. There sure is a lot of stuff. Hey - there's a tiny toilet in the distance. Pick the object:

Screen Shot 2012 09 20 at 9 29 42 PM

3. Go to the Add-Ins panel, select External Tools and Select "Zoom To Awesome":

Screen Shot 2012 09 20 at 9 29 20 PM

4. You will be immediately transported to the selected object(s) that remain selected for your convienence: 

Screen Shot 2012 09 20 at 9 29 58 PM


But wait - there's more!

  • Works in 2D and 3D!
  • Works on geometry, tags, text, detail components and more!
  • You can even map a keyboard shortcut ("ZX" rocks!)

Why waste your time innaccurately zooming in and out with a scroll wheel?

Why use the Zoom In Region tool in order to select something when you can zoom to it by selecting!

Happy Friday! And a very special shout out to Noah Beach for his much appreciated programming assistance!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stupid Easy

Dictate icon


If you're using OSX Mountain Lion (10.8), you'll know that Dictation and Speech had a nice upgrade. Now it actually works most of the time!

First of all - you can quickly customize enabling via Preferences. There's a couple of preset shortcuts to switch it on via a double keystroke. Tapping the selected key twice will bring up the dictation icon at your cursor location. After you finish speaking simply press the return key. If you want to cancel - just press the ESC key.

Screen Shot 2012 09 04 at 12 13 14 PM


Dictation and Speech isn't useful for whole message dictation. On the other hand - dictating an IM or single sentence works really well.

So what's really to like? Spelling and Searching.

For spelling, imagine you're happily typing a message and get to a word that you're stuck on to the point that your hopefully-close-enough effort still isn't close enough. When this happens, get unstuck by tapping the shortcut key twice and simply speak the word. Speech and Dictation does a really great job of filling in the blank and you're on your way.

For searching, simply place your icon in the search bar of your preferred web browser, double-tab the shortcut and ask your question. Then tap the return key to initiate the search once the translation is complete.

Overall, Dictation and Speech often seems like an answer to an infrequently asked question. But when it's useful - it's really pretty cool!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to School (2012)

Update on the annual back to school photos!

2002 - Preschool

Mastering Mondays

We’ve started a new little (unofficial) adventure on YouTube we’re calling “Mastering Mondays!” What is it and how does it relate to the books? Allow me to explain…

Here is last week’s installment about creating custom wall constraints:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Apple Math

The addition of Hulu Plus to AppleTV is an interesting addition to what Tim Cook simply referred to a "hobby" during the last investor call. Especially considering when Apple has sold 4million units so far this year alone.

So what's next?

Imagine this: "Siri - Please play that episode of South Park where Eric Cartman wants to go to Stan's birthday party at Casa Bonita."

Apple is creating ecosystems and going where customers have been long underserved and there is significant demand for a better way. But while everyone is focused on mobile, I think there's quite a bit slight of hand ("...nothing to see here folks…just a $400million hobby…move right along...") going on with regard to Cable TV. I'll put it this way (click here for a larger version):

Screen Shot 2012 07 31 at 5 07 44 PM





IMO Apple is quickly and quietly going after Cable TV providers with better delivery methods, a la carte selection and on demand viewing. Don't be surprised as premium content creators begin signing agreements with Apple:  HBO, ESPN, Disney, BBC as well as other international creators (maybe even TVNZ - Shortland Street for everyone! :) 

AppleTV then quickly becomes a vastly improved distribution medium and of course they'll extract a modest toll in the process. And with a world wide revenue opportunity it'll mean $billions more for Apple - funded in part by the giant sucking sound as viewers cut the cable for broadcast TV and keep it for internet access only. Heck - for only two months cable TV cost ($50/month) you can buy an AppleTV. And the difference can fund subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu Plus and more.

Or imagine this: after NBC's mis-handling of the Olympic games, can an Olympics app for the AppleTV be very far behind?

Friday, July 6, 2012

RTC USA Feedback

Screen Shot 2012 07 06 at 10 55 21 AM

There's a lot of blogging going on post #RTCNA (formerly #RTCUSA) in Stone Mountain. I'm going to try to list all the blog posts but if I miss any please email / twitter a link.

And if you didn't get to go, be sure to print a few reviews and staple them together with your resignation letter before placing it on your bosses desk.

Ok - maybe not with a resignation letter. Maybe just as a list of the competition who was there.

You see, It's a bit chicken / egg: you're being told you couldn't make it  because you don't have the budget…or is it that you don't have the budget because you couldn't make it?

James Vandezande / HOK

Brian Mackey / Mackay Consulting

Aaron Maller /  Beck Group

Paul Aubin / Consulting Services

Lonnie Cumpton / BIM9

Robert Manna / Stantec

Aaron Vorwerk / D|C|CADD

Jeffrey Pinheiro / Fletcher Thompson (here here and here)

Erik Lewis / Devenney Group Ltd.

Check back for updates!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

RTC North America 2012

Note: This is a re-post (with permission!) from JamesV's blog over here: 



Here I sit on the train, commuting back to work on a warm Monday morning, attempting to summarize what concluded a mere 27 hours ago. I'm attempting to find the right way to express my feelings about the RTC North America 2012 conference in Stone Mountain, GA and I seem to keep returning to Bradley Cooper's character in The Hangover II when he makes that fateful phone call..."it happened again."
Now, I'm not saying we lost all track of reality in a drunken stupor - rather that I feel a nostalgia of great events in the past. Meeting new friends, learning truly valuable skills, and having a whole bag of fun in the process.

Let's start from the beginning...even before departing New York for Atlanta. At AU in November 2011, my good old friend Wes Benn says that I absolutely must submit a class proposal for RTC in June. I was supposed to give a presentation at the first RTC North America event earlier in 2011, but an important family event forced me to defer my presentation to an excellent colleague who did a bang-up job of Effective Coordination, avoiding an imminent #screwtastrophe.

So, I submitted a topic called "Building Smarter Models" that was accepted and I was on my way to Georgia. Fast forward to June 27 and I arrive with two others at Hartsfield Airport late that evening. We share a car out to the Evergreen Marriott Resort at Stone Mountain - a 40 minute drive. Along the way, Scott Davis receives a call from Jim Balding with the news that there are no rooms left for the three of us. Surely this is one of Jim's practical jokes, but it turned out to be true. After shuttling back and forth between two hotels in the area until 1 am, we had a plan - Bruce got a room, Scott shacked up with Jim for the night, and I stayed with Wes.

The next morning I may have been caught saying that I was due for a crappy conference because I've been to so many good ones in recent years. I was about to let fate take its course. Then it was underway...

We were first treated to a fascinating "fireside (albeit a virtual fire) chat" with the one and only Dick Morley - the father of such modern day innovations as the programmable logic controller, anti-lock brakes, and the picture keys on McDonalds restaurant registers. Dick was followed by Steve Stafford and a few folks from Autodesk talking about what's new in Revit 2013 and what's to come. Of course, Autodesk can't reveal details about what's coming without everyone being under NDA, so I felt that was an unnecessary addition to Steve's summary.

After lunch, we were off to the first round of classes. This is where the magic begins. Without a fully detailed summary of every session I attended, let me just say that you probably won't find a better assembly of speakers and topics covering Revit and related technologies than at an RTC event. I'd have to say that my favorite presenter was Marcello Sgambelluri. His passion, eloquence, enthusiasm, and overall knowledge of each topic was remarkable and inspiring.

Removed  << EDIT: Sorry, had to remove the video snippet of Marcello's presentation by request >>

RTC is a multi-track event in which there are several simultaneous classes in regular time slots over three days. It is difficult to decide which class to attend in any given schedule slot and they don't yet record the proceedings. I hope they do in the future because I didn't hear anything but positive reviews from my colleagues attending other sessions.

One thing that seems to be receding from the itinerary of other industry conferences are the social events. This is where RTC certainly doesn't skimp. As event founder, Wes and his committee understand the immeasurable value of networking at these types of venues. It might make their event a little more costly, but I wouldn't even hesitate to keep coming if they keep up their high standard of excellence. On Friday night, we were treated to a paddle boat ride across the lake to the Stone Mountain Golf Clubhouse for a fine BBQ dinner and on Saturday, the gala dinner concluded the conference with the announcement of the contest winners and a bluegrass band.

Future conferences are scheduled for RTC North America - Vancouver in July 2013, RTC Europe - Delft, Netherlands in September 2013, and RTC Australasia - New Zealand in May 2013. I encourage you to visit to learn more about these upcoming events.

Bluegrass + (Madonna + DEVO + INXS) / Stone Mountain = Packway Handle Band

Hey everyone - if you've still got the tunes from Saturday night's Gala Dinner stuck in your head there is a cure! The Packway Handle Band is available on iTunes.

Screen Shot 2012 07 03 at 9 43 01 AM

Please support these full-time musicians - we all know what it's like to be a passionate, driven artist. I'm digging the (Sinner) You'd Better Get Ready CD which features the wonderful rendition of Madonna's "Like A Prayer". Listen closely to the last 10 seconds or so for the cut in by the neighbor with insomnia. :)

Insert earbuds, press play and close eyes…I'm back at RTC!

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Friday!

And what could possibly make it better?

That's right! RTC North America is next week! We'll be indoors during 90 degree highs. But a few evening events will be outdoors in pleasant 70 degree lows. So feel free to pack your shorts and t-shirts. Start here for the latest / greatest registration info if you're still on the fence!

Could that possible be all the good new? What? No?

Wait! There's more!

We've just found out that the FLAT TIRES entire discography has been accepted by Pandora:

Screen Shot 2012 06 22 at 2 21 46 PM

It's not as easy as you'd think - and they don't just accept any / all music out there. So we're really pleased to have make the cut. Go here to get started!

See you at RTC!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Put Your Pencils Down

Screen Shot 2012 06 20 at 8 38 23 AM


Thursday, August 9

Baltimore, Maryland

Friday, August 10
The Iron Works
Pittsburg, PA

Saturday, August 11
The Grog Shop
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Sunday, August 12
Mohawk Place
Buffalo, New York

Sunday, August 13

Tuesday, August 14
Burlington, Vermont

Wednesday, August 15
Chameleons Nightclub

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Thursday, August 16
The Dover Brickhouse

Dover, New Hampshire

Friday, August 17
Rocks On Concert Cruise

Boston, MA

Saturday, August 18
Rocks Off Concert Cruise

New York, NY

 - Bonus -

 Here's a link to download a six song sample of FLAT TIRES music across their past three albums:

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Facts and Figures

RTC2012us abstract header 800x215 copy


Two weeks from today RTC North America gathers at Stone Mountain Resort for the 2nd annual conference. What better time to rattle off some interesting facts and figures for this year's event. This is a great opportunity to get kick started with the latest and greatest in the BIM ecosystem. We have a full schedule of events - but plenty of time to discuss best practices, cross discipline workflow and more - including: 

  • 24 Sponsors and Exhibitors (and climbing!)
  • 95 Sessions
  • 80 Speakers
  • 13 Delegate Countries
    • Australia
    • Canada
    • Denmark
    • Lithuania
    • Japan
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Netherlands
    • New Zealand
    • United Kingdom
    • United Arab Emirates
    • USA
  • 12 Published BIM Authors
  • Scores of Bloggers and Industry Experts
  • 2 Fully Operation Cloud-based BIM Labs
  • Special Vasari goodness compliments of Matt Jezyk and Zack Kron
  • Keynote Speaker Dick Morley
  • Complimentary airport shuttle to Stone Mountain Resort

And in addition to being the premier North America BIM-centric conference, Stone Mountain Park is a wonderful, family friendly environment. Consider bringing your spouse and children for a relaxing getaway. Let them play while you work!

For registration start here.

There are still a few exhibition and sponsorship opportunities available. For the full prospectus start here.

Full conference schedule and information is available at

RTC 2012 North America 500x240

Friday, June 8, 2012

Before and After

First Day of Kindergarten vs. Last Day of Middle School

Still Great Friends. :)



IMG 7361

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Are You an “Intrapreneur?”

Thanks to Mike Plotnick (@SomeChum) for tweeting this link. Different than entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg; intrapreneurs are people who have an entrepreneurial streak in their DNA, but choose to align their talents with a large organization in place of creating their own. I like to think I fall into this category, albeit on a much smaller scale than people mentioned in the article from Ford, Intel, Dell and others.

Move Over Entrepreneurs, Here Come The Intrapreneurs
By David Armano, executive VP, Global Innovation & Integration at Edelman.

On a similar note, in my time with HOK, I have always been impressed with the somewhat low-profile business within the firm that designs their own products. HOK Product Design was founded in 2009 and is an “independent business that engages designers who use design thinking to create innovative products for the built environment.” It has the “unique ability to draw on the knowledge, research and evidence-based data available within HOK as well as the firm’s leadership in strategic planning, workplace consulting and sustainable design.”

Some of the innovative products that have come out of this group include Full Circle®, a continuously curved luminaire concept manufactured by Winona Lighting, Balance Beam, a grab bar with touch activated LED lights manufactured by Cooper Lighting IO division, and Gather, a collaborative furniture line manufactured by Allsteel.

There are many other products ranging from recycling systems, to coping, to wall/curb rain gardens – all designed by talented team members working on HOK projects! Please hop on over to their website and peruse the product offerings. You can even submit your own idea.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Three Weeks from Today!

RTC 2012 North America 500x240

RTC North America begins three weeks from today! Last year's inaugural event in Huntington Beach, CA was extremely successful and we're expecting even more during this years conference! Here's just a few highlights to look forward to:
  • LEADERSHIP. RTC North America is attended by many of the most well known names in the BIM-universe! This is a unique ‘for users, by users’ event, where experts and leaders in the field of BIM share their knowledge and experience. You'll have plenty of time for one-on-one discussions with well known industry leaders. 
  • PROGRAM. RTC North America caters to a broad range of interests and skill levels with seven simultaneous streams - providing a comprehensive program for everyone. Detailed presentations, lab sessions, showcases and more create a lively mix of learning opportunities, while the expanded social functions allows for relaxation and an opportunity to keep up to date with industry peers.  
  • INSPIRATION. During the inaugural RTC in North America, over 90% of the attendees indicated that they would return for this years event. Register now! With limits on attendance numbers, each conference will continue to bring the relaxed and friendly RTC atmosphere to its attendees, with innovative, thought-provoking and informative presentations and discussions.
  • ENTERTAINMENT. Following the Gala Dinner, the award winning alt-bluegrass Packway Handle Band ( will be providing this year's entertainment! After three days of intense learning and knowledge sharing it's time to relax and enjoy some great music in the scenic Georgia outdoors!
  • FAMILY. Stone Mountain Park ( is a wonderful, family friendly environment with numerous indoor and outdoor activities! If you're within driving distance of the conference bring the family! Children young and old will have fun-fill days and rest well at night.
For registration start here.

Full conference schedule and information is available at

RTC2012us abstract header 800x215 copy

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What? A blog post?!?

So, as you might have noticed (the two of you still looking at these posts) we haven't posted a lot of anything lately. We offer an enlightened explanation:

We've been busy with other stuff.


That said, I'm also here to tell you that because of our decline in blog-based enthusiasm and our desire to reach out to the social media / new millennium generation, we're moving things around a bit. Not that you'll be seeing a lot more blog posts - well, you will be, but..... in an effort to basically get current, we're moving book-related items to Facebook. Yeah, it was bound to happen.

So, if you want to follow the zany antics of Phil, or hear about childhood memories up for sale, or about the latest Flat Tires tour dates, you can still find them here. If you're wanting to know about some cool tool for Revit, what's current with the book, or what we're presenting on at AU, please look to Facebook.

To that end, we're doing a bit of archiving. In the Mastering Revit books, we've gotten some great people to so some great chapters and essays for us in years past and we're going to be digging those out in the next few weeks and posting them via Facebook online - free for you to read and distribute. It'll be some seriously cool stuff, so keep your eyes peeled.

So, check Facebook but remember: There's a safe way to check and Phil's way to check.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Call for Proposals

Screen Shot 2012 04 25 at 10 18 42 AM

It's that time of year again! Call for proposals for AU 2012 is now open. Click the above image to submit your proposal or click here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

MARA 2013 Cover Art

Screen Shot 2012 04 09 at 12 01 53 PM

We had a lot of great submissions this year for both the Mastering and Essentials covers. But when push came to shove (almost literally :) we selected the above image for this years Mastering cover.

Congrats and thanks to Sean Burke and team over at NBBJ (link) for the  cover art for Mastering Revit 2013! Phil Bernstein (link) has graciously agreed to write this years forward and we'll post a link to the PDF as soon as it's availble.

On a personal note - I had the great pleasure of working with Sean Burke (link) for a number of years at Autodesk. Sean's got a great passion for all things BIM, Technology and Sustainability.

But don't let his measured seriousness fool you - he's got a wicked sense of humor as well. ;)

Thanks Phil, Sean and NBBJ!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Matt Jezyk says it all

As part of the book process, we cajole some poor sole into taking some of their precious personal time and writing a foreword for us. For our upcoming Essentials book, we got Revit founder, Matt Jezyk to do so. And what he did was great. And long. So good, we wanted to share it with all of you.

To help roll in 10 years of Revit with Autodesk, check out this great essay.

Thanks a ton, Matt. We're looking forward to 10 more.

New Features of Revit 2013

The news is now starting to flood the blogosphere…Revit 2013 will soon arrive! As usual, Mastering Revit contributing author, David Light, has provided an in-depth review of the new features. Please hop on over to his blog and read all about it…


Friday, March 23, 2012

Bird Brains

Well, it turns out the guy that claimed he could fly like a bird was FOS. Apparently he's an "artist" that wanted to create an "experiment about online media". It's not his first effort to create this thing he calls art:

In 2006, Kaayk created a hoaxed documentary about a fake disease called Metalosis Maligna that causes medical implants to grow and overtake the body.

Sorry if you felt a bit disappointed. Many people seemed inspired by the idea of flying like a bird - even if it was false inspiration.

So if Bird Man left you feeing a bit jaded, here's a far better inspiring alternative

The next video is a fourth grade girl at ski camp taking her first 60' ski jump. It turns out you really can fly (albeit for a short distance). But it takes real nerve, determination and staring down your fears to do it.

And the result is what looks and sounds like real character building - even though the little kid didn't get a televised interview after the fact or over four-million views on YouTube (as Bird Brains did).

You go girl. I showed your video to all my kids - and I got choked up each time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Spring Gift for You

The alternate title is "It's All Just Buzz"

you can take your pick.

That said, we received some truly inspiring copy in the form of a couple short essays. Both deal with the fact that Revit was acquired by Autodesk 10 years ago as of April 1, 2012. Both pieces will appear in the upcoming books, Mastering Revit and Revit Essentials, but as a reflection of the past 10 years and the the next 10 to come, we're going to post a link to them for you to download and read, free of charge.

I hope you find them as inspiring as we did. More to come on those thoughts, but check back in a week for a link.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ripoff Report

Ever get a weird text on your cell phone and ignore it?

Then please pay attention to your next cell phone bill.

I was going to pay my cell phone bill this morning and found this:

Screen Shot 2012 03 16 at 10 23 59 AM

WTF? One time use charges? That'll add up over a year…wonder what it is.

Screen Shot 2012 03 16 at 10 24 26 AM

Dammit. I never ordered any of their shit.

So I called T-Mobile. And the customer service person was very apologetic and immediately reversed the charges. She also went on to say, "they're complete bastards". No - hang on…I think I said that.

But what she did say was this: "Just yesterday, I had to reverse nearly $200 of charges on someones cell phone bill from this company."

Here's how it works:

  • They get your cell phone number (like a telemarketer).
  • You get a strange text message.
  • You open the message to see what it says.
  • By opening the text message - you just agreed to accept the services and they charge you.
  • There's nothing (yet) illegal about doing this.

Here's the company web-site.

And here's some more info from people that have been harassed by this horrible effing company.

And here's the LinkedIn page of their demon-spawn-child CEO Russell Klein, which brings up another point: Russell K. is a Harvard Business School graduate. This simply reaffirms that Harvard and Yale have no shortage of graduates that just love to $#*% with your wallet. Seriously? Harvard? Yale? If you guys are really the modern fonts of all that is knowledge and wisdom - then why do you keep graduating lobbyists on K Street, bankers on Wall Street and lawyers on 1st Street that are completely @#*$&ing over our economic well-being?

Dear Russell,

If you're reading this - there isn't a level of Hell deep enough for you and your fellow graduates. You provide so little value yet you charge so much. Why? Because after all the reversed charges from angry, sucker punched "customers" that have to take the time to call their cell phone companies - you need to make sure you still have some money left over (from the customers that either don't hate your "service" or just didn't take the time to check the details of their cell phone bill).

Wait - I take that back. I don't think you have a single customer that doesn't hate what you guys do. I can't imagine SendMe has one - just one - customer that pays for your service and loves what it does. Not one.

Not. A. Single. One.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sounds of Science

Portal AlbumCover


Even if you're not into gaming, you should check out "Portal" . It's thoughtful, challenging and unique as far as I know. And the moral implications of a caring for an inanimate companion cube are…well…interesting.

It's also interesting that the creators of portal have released a three-volume soundtrack which is available for free. Coupled with the visuals and game play the music reinforces the importance of sound in order to complete a compelling experience.

If you're not familiar with "Portal" check out this short film by Dan Trachtenberg. Without giving away any spoilers, it will give you some insight into the mythology of Portal.

You may also know Dan from the "Totally RAD Show" - a wonderful podcast that reviews games, movies, graphic novels and more (Revision3). I had the great pleasure of meeting the TRS team team a few years back. Great group of guys that deserve all the success coming their way.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Revit Essentials cover

Our first cover is in! A HUGE thanks to Robert M. and the SOM gang for the smashing rendering. To date, we've received over 140 images from all of you so it hasn't been an easy decision to make. There's still one cover left to go, plus the image gallery we put into the Mastering Book.

Keep them coming!

ps. obviously, this cover has been redacted to protect the innocent. Finished, but not final. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012


IMG 0339

Another free calling service for iOS and Android hits the app store. Free app to app calls and reduced international calling to cell phones and land lines. You don't have to be a Vonage customer to use the mobile version of the app.

Installation was straightforward Vonage users are indicated in the contacts list.

Links to iOS and Android here.

Blueboxes unite!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Packway Handle Band at RTC in Stone Mountain, GA

Georgia's finest - The Packway Handle Band has signed on to preform after the Gala Dinner at RTC in Stone Mountain, GA. If the weather holds up we're planning on having dessert and drinks on the expansive back deck behind the resort that overlooks the tree-lined lake.

Packway Handle have been working together over the last decade and traveled around the world. For example, the above video was shot in Scotland as part of a BBC documentary. They're mostly located in and around Athens, GA - home of some other well known musical greats.

They typically preform a wide range of songs - from traditional bluegrass (links here and here) to modern covers from the likes Woody Guthrie, Lou Reed, Violent Femmes, and even Madonna (links here and here). And they've won numerous awards in the process.

So what's next? Well, if Clay Starr promises to bring his banjo, I'll bring my acoustic bass. I wonder if Steve Shell has a mint Martin D28 buried among his growing pile of Les Pauls. Anyone else? Eddy? The only thing he plays is the radio - so he's bringing Angela.

Last year was the west coast - this year it's the best coast. ;) The very best of BIM and Bluegrass. It's going to be a great RTC USA this year in Stone Mountain!

General registration opens soon!

Monday, February 6, 2012

11 Years Ago (Yesterday)

Xlg computer drafting


11 years ago yesterday I went to work for Revit Technology Corporation. Most shocking first impression: the soft drink machines didn't even need money! And it's been an adventure every since.

Thank you Dave.

Thank you Hunter.

Thank you Matt.

Thank you Sunil.

Thank you Leonid.

And many, many more.

Here's to the next ten years!


Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Reprieve #35

I was continuing to eliminate my paper records (re: Total Recall) and came across a story that was circulated at SOM many years ago. Author unknown.

The Balloonist

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man below says, "Yes. You are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are between 40 and 42 degrees North latitude and between 58 and 60 degrees West longitude."

"You must be an ARCHITECT," says the balloonist.

"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost."

The man below says, "You must be a CONTRACTOR."

"I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you are going. You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is, you are in the exact same position you were in before we met, but now it is somehow my fault."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Effective User Groups, Part 2

Following up on Part 1 of my tips for organizing and maintaining effective user groups, this post will cover the physical and virtual spaces that support great interaction.

Meeting Locations

Where you host your meetings is probably the biggest variable in the equation for an effective user group. There’s no perfect answer because you must find the best balance of function, space, and cost that meets your needs. I’ll offer my own experiences for your evaluation.



Probably the most common place to start a user group is at the leader’s office. If you have a large enough conference room or even a lobby space with plenty of stacking/folding chairs, this might be all you need. Sometimes it’s fun to rotate locations of a user group meeting to various participating companies. The main drawback is the number of people you can pack into a space. Meetings can get disrupted when attendees are standing or sitting on the floor (yes, I’ve had that experience!)

Issues: Building security, space set up & clean up, limited number of attendees


The DC Revit Users Group meets at a beautiful space atop the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington. I’ve done some research in the past into meeting spaces in New York City and the cost may be $1,000 – $2,000 per event.

Issues: Cost


These kinds of spaces are likely only available in major metropolitan centers, but they are an interesting option. Product manufacturers like Steelcase may have showrooms in your region that can be utilized for group functions. In NYC, I’ve attended events at Steelcase, The Gunlocke Company, Haefele, and the McGraw Hill Auditorium. I’ve never organized a meeting at a showroom, so I can’t speak to the costs involved.

Issues: Cost?


Why not mix learning and networking with some food? I’ve attended a few user group meetings held at restaurants over the years. One of the early NYC Revit User Group meetings was held at a bar which was actually an old bank. Our ‘private meeting room’ was actually the old vault and I recall giving a presentation where the ‘screen’ was actually a backdrop of safe deposit boxes! The Ontario RUG used to meet at a restaurant called Alice Fazooli’s. This was fun because they had a large dedicated space and the food was great.

Issues: Cost, A/V equipment

Academic Institutions


Our group was really fortunate to connect with Pratt Institute and use their lecture space on a monthly basis. For two years, we were able to utilize this space without cost because they enjoy the exposure for Pratt’s continuing & professional studies programs in the building. Recently we were asked to provide insurance coverage for our meetings and yet again, an interested company came to the rescue to provide this contribution as a group sponsor. More on this to come in Part 3…

Personally, I think an academic location is the best option because it seems that it is the most mutually beneficial solution. You can bring potential students in and they can provide a space well-suited to learning events. So reach out to your local university or technical college and see if they are willing to share some space.

Group Websites

Now that we’ve covered the physical space, let’s talk about virtual space. As I mentioned in Part 1, there are so many free social tools available on the web today that can support groups. When we got the NYC RUG started in 2006, Google Groups was a pretty good option. This free service is still around, but its functionality is somewhat limited. You can create custom pages, upload files and manage members – but that’s about it. I’d keep an eye on Google+ and see how it evolves.

In addition to an Internet home for your group, you should also think about how you want to handle events. In the past I used to manage events while we were on Google Groups. It’s a free service and does a nice job handling RSVP’s and automated reminders; however, it wasn’t integrated with the group website, so I had to manage two member databases.

Facebook seems to have highly functional group tools where you can create and manage events, have discussions, post links, photos and videos. It’s all free, but you have to be a Facebook user to join a group. Some people like to keep their personal interactions on Facebook, so they may not want to mix business-related stuff there. Also, some offices may even block access to social sites like Facebook. LinkedIn has groups as well, but I haven’t found them as easy to use as FB.

The NYC Revit Users Group uses a site called It’s a paid service ($45 every three months), but our members seem to really appreciate the functionality. It has discussion boards, file/photo uploads, topic suggestions, and it’s event management is great. Automated email reminders, dues collection (if applicable), name tags, sign-in sheet, and more.

I’ve only discussed a few web-based group platforms here, but there are so many more out there. Do some homework, look at other group sites and pick one that suits your taste such as Ning.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Call for Art

Hey all.
It's that time of the year again - we're on the hunt for new cover art for next year's Mastering Revit and Revit Essentials books.

Think you've got what it takes to make the cover shot?

'cause here's the thing - our publisher was looking to shake it up a bit and gave us these two covers as ways of 'trying something new'. The first one I kinda get. But the 2nd one - am I supposed to be the goose? I'm just not seeing it.

So, help us help you help us. What we're looking for is a rendering of a Revit project (the rendering doesn't have to be done in Revit). Something you or your firm created that you'd let us use for the cover of the book.

Please email your submissions to for consideration. Two really important points:
  1. Don't send high-res images suitable for publication (yet). Just send medium-res PNGs and JPGs for now for review.
  2. If accepted, you (or someone with the appropriate authority) will need to sign a waver allowing the images to be published. Then we'll resolve where to send/upload the high-res images.

What's in it for you? Fame. Glory. International distribution. Plus a free copy of the book with your art on it! We've gotten some great renderings for the last two years. We're hoping to see some more this year.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Effective User Groups, Part 1

I’ve been thinking about sharing my user group experiences for some time now and an email came in asking me about just such information. (How do you approach businesses or individuals to attend and then speak at the meetings? How do secure sponsors for venues and food? How do you deal with topics specifically geared towards a particular discipline without losing the rest of your members?…) Needless to say, I am taking the initiative to write about the evolution of the New York City Revit Users Group.

In a series of posts, I’ll discuss the following topics:

  • Getting a group started
  • Organizing topics and speakers
  • Meeting locations
  • Group websites
  • Sponsors
  • A/V technology

I hope you will find my opinions interesting and I welcome comments about your experiences.


Getting a Group Started

There’s quite a bit of a story leading up to April 2006 that I now realize will have to be yet another series of posts on my journey with BIM. That said, I was 2 years into implementing Revit on World Trade Center Tower One at SOM and each of the New York area Autodesk resellers were starting to ramp up their own Revit user groups. As I recall, there were at least two – maybe three – separate groups and they all wanted me to speak at their events at one time or another. I thought, "there has to be a better way.”


Lesson #1: By the people, for the people

Users don’t need to sell anything. There…I said it. I have the utmost respect for the VAR’s (value-added resellers) and trainers with whom I’ve collaborated in my career, but (in my opinion) they don’t have that grassroots, real world, in the trenches, battle-scarred approach to the tools. Whether a VAR has an agenda or not, I frequently get that feeling when I attend a VAR-organized user group. We’ll talk more about sponsorship later…

The first step in creating a successful user group is finding some local people in your industry who share the same passion. Look at your current or most recent project team, consultants, contractors…did you make some new friends as you worked through the last all-night deadline? Get together for lunch a few times and you might have the seedlings for a user group!

Back in 2006, we didn’t have Twitter or Facebook, so getting the word out about new user groups was either by word of mouth or mass e-mailings (but you had to know your recipients first!). And websites were pretty expensive back then…if was around, you sure couldn’t buy a site for $9.99 and be up and running in a matter of minutes.


Today, you can create a group presence for free on Facebook with just about everything you’d need to get a group going. More on technology in a forthcoming post…

Lesson #2: Maintain regular meetings

Research has shown that the leading cause of user group death is apathy. OK, that’s my own observation, but I’ve seen it happen. Even if you just get together and have a roundtable discussion about BIM standards, it’s still a meeting and your attendees will come to expect the next regularly scheduled meeting.

Organizing Speakers and Topics

So, what’s the magic formula for finding interesting speakers and topics? Sorry, there isn’t one. In the early days, we did two things: spoke about our own experiences; and had VAR trainers give how-to lectures. The best advice I can give to new organizers is to network, network, and then network some more. I’ve met so many people at events like Autodesk University and those connections inevitably lead to memorable guest appearances for our group.


Lesson #3: Get help

We have been conducting regular monthly meetings for almost 5 years and with over 770 registered members, we only recently have achieved 10 volunteers on our advisory board. The overwhelming majority of user group attendees just want to receive content – not participate in creating the content. The best thing our group did was to assign vice presidents (those who were the most active and available to co-organize the meetings), and create an advisory board of members who just wanted to help contribute topic ideas and perhaps suggest some contact connections for guest speakers. The burden shouldn’t rest squarely on one person.


Lesson #4: Lock in dates for guests early

When you are speaking to potential guest speakers, try to get them to commit to a date far in advance. They may not know what their schedules look like two months or more ahead, but they will know when they have agreed to present at your group.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, coming soon…